Advertising has become a really tough business. To be fair, it probably always has been one. But getting people’s attention and interest nowadays seems almost impossible. When commercials start on television, people just change the channel. Billboards are much easier ignored than looked at. And online advertising, banner ads and the like, might still be thought to be the future, but let’s be honest: your target group is probably using an ad-blocker and won’t see a single one of your ads.
So what is an advertiser to do? How can you get people to still pay attention and see what you have to offer? The answer, it seems, can only be publicity stunts and viral marketing; doing something unusual and attention grabbing and hoping that people will see it and spread the word. Not exactly classical advertising, but something that can work very well. Just consider this recent example. The original publicity stunt was only seen by a few dozen people, but the video has since gone viral and registered more than 33 million (!) hits on YouTube. Now that’s good advertising.
But how can that be translated to other companies, other industries, other situations? The effectiveness of viral marketing in general aside – we’re going to write some more about that on Thursday – it seems like something that is not easy to replicate. Can you plan a campaign like this or is it one big gamble?
How do you feel about publicity stunts like these? Have you ever considered a viral marketing campaign? Can it even work for small businesses? The common sense answer is yes. It’s generally cheaper than traditional advertising venues. One good idea can be enough to at least get people talking about your business. Whether they are going to actually become customers is a whole different matter, of course. But assuming that you are happy just to be talked about: how do you do it? Can you think of some examples for successful viral marketing campaigns not undertaken by global corporations? If so, please share them in the comments, we are always eager to learn!
Personally, I see viral marketing as a double-edged sword. Yes, it can generate incredible word-of-mouth and grab people’s attention in a way that classical advertising never could. But it also seems like something that has a very low chance of succeeding. What if nobody notices your YouTube video? Or what if people just don’t care about it? Classical advertising might be more expensive, but at least you can calculate the return on investment fairly well. Does that mean that viral marketing is just for risk-takers? Is it entrepreneurial? I’m honestly not sure about that, but it’s a topic that will cause quite a few conversations in the Katoka offices in the next few days and I’m sure that there will be some interesting insights.